Government’s Olympic ‘legacy client’ will have no land ownership or planning powers

A public sector-led urban regeneration-style company with no planning powers is due to be announced as the vehicle responsible for the legacy of the 2012 Olympics site in east London.

Property Week has learnt that the government is about to announce plans for a ‘legacy client’ vehicle, which will be a publicly owned company, limited by guarantee.

It will be set up by the Greater London Authority and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG).

It will operate largely as an urban regeneration company engaging on a contractual basis, as a normal developer would, with the Olympic Park majority landowner, the London Development Agency.

The legacy vehicle, which has yet to be named, will have neither planning powers nor overall control or ownership of the land. It will also have to negotiate with five local planning authorities – Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Waltham Forest and Greenwich – on the implementation of the legacy masterplan.

The vehicle comes into effect on 1 April and is already operating in shadow form. This week a headhunter was appointed to recruit a ‘legacy champion’ or chief executive.

London mayor Boris Johnson met with secretary of state for communities and local government Hazel Blears in December to discuss the key attributes and requirements for the ‘legacy champion’ role, which could be filled by a private or public sector figure.

It is thought the final decision and fine tuning of the vehicle is being discussed by the mayor’s office and CLG before it is announced.

The Olympics 2012 legacy, which is credited with winning the games for London, seeks to attract public and private sector investment to regenerate east London and the Lower Lea Valley. In addition to securing future uses for the Olympics facilities, it will be charged with ensuring the development of homes, parkland, schools, Workspace, health and sports facilities.

The vehicle has its critics in the property industry, which favoured a vehicle similar to the London Docklands Development Corporation, which had land control and planning powers.

However, others say it would have been impossible to create a ‘super-authority’ and that this is a good interim vehicle that is being set up well in advance of the games, allowing sufficient time to ensure the legacy delivery.

Heavyweight UK developers have been brought in as ‘critical friends’ to advise on an informal basis on the legacy and options for the masterplan, which is being designed by EDAW, KCAP and Allies & Morrison.